AMSA launches new campaign targeting container ships

Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has launched a focused campaign targeting container ships visiting Australian ports. The campaign is set to run from 1 August to 31 October 2020. AMSA warns that any container ship visiting Australia within the designated period should expect a visit.

AMSA has conducted focused inspection campaigns in the past but not since 2007. The aim of a focused campaign is to ensure all ships inspected are compliant with international requirements. Each focused inspection campaign targets an area on the ship that commonly has deficiencies based on assessment of Port State Control (PSC) statistics.


Current campaign

The current campaign is focused on proper stowage and securing of cargo containers and is no doubt in response to recent high-profile incidents off the Australian coast concerning cargo being lost overboard while at sea. AMSA alleges that wasted cargo securing points, improper lashings and exceeding stack weight limits have all contributed to such incidents.


Inspections at a glance

The campaign involves focused inspections (taking place concurrently with routine PSC inspections) and standalone inspections.

Focused inspections

AMSA will undertake focused inspections checking for compliance with regulation 5 of Chapter VI of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention.

In Australia, SOLAS is given effect through Marine Order 42 (Carriage, stowage and securing of cargoes and containers) 2016 and includes the manner in which cargo is secured and the weight distribution of cargo within the stow. To access Marine Order 42, click here.

Standalone inspections

AMSA will undertake standalone inspection for vessels not eligible for PSC inspection. Where a vessel is deemed non-compliant, AMSA may proceed to a full PSC inspection.



Where non-compliances are found, AMSA will take the necessary steps to bring the ship into compliance.

While AMSA hasnot stated what these ‘steps’ will involve, AMSA does have the power through Australia’s Navigation Act 2012 to detain unseaworthy or substandard ships until deficiencies/issues have been resolved. In the event cargo is lost overboard, AMSA has the power to lay Commonwealth criminal charges against the master of a vessel and other crew members. These charges can attract larges fines and terms of imprisonment.

AMSA has stated that the results of this campaign will be published in a report online at the campaign’s conclusion.



To avoid any potential delays and detainment at port, shipowners and operators should check that their systems for stowage and securing of cargo and containers is in accordance with approved arrangements.

To help prepare, AMSA has published a checklist which will be followed when conducting the inspections. To access this checklist, click here.

We recommend shipowners and operators should ensure the following:

  1. Ensure master and crew are aware of the upcoming focused campaign;
  2. Ensure all documentation and certificates (including current classification society certificates) onboard are ready for inspection;
  3. Ensure stowage is per the approved cargo securing manual;
  4. Check physical condition of container lashing equipment and securing points on deck; and
  5. Prepare equipment for testing.


Contact us

If you have any questions, contact Thynne + Macartney’s Maritime + Transport group:

Michael Fisher
Matthew Hockaday
P: +61 7 3231 8857
M: +61 408 735 653
P: +61 7 3231 8814
M: +61 422 318 678


Murray Tavener
Senior Associate
Chanveer Singh
P: +61 7 4031 4711
M: +61 425 316 020
P: +61 7 4031 4711
M: +61 466 955 766


Rebecca Flynn
P: +61 7 3231 8856
M: +61 412 911 752


Authors: Michael Fisher and Rebecca Flynn

This information is intended to provide a general summary only and should not be relied on as a substitute for legal advice.

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